You may remember V V Brown as Britain’s answer to Janelle Monae, pouring a grab bag of soul/R&B influences through a fizzy, retro filter on her 2009 debut, Travelling Like The Light. My, how things have changed in four years! Brown was far along on her peppy follow-up, Lollipops & Politics, when she decided at the last second to scrap it and travel down the rabbit hole, hoping to come up with something more evocative and challenging. The result is Samson & Delilah, one of the boldest 180s between an artist’s first and second albums that we’ve witnessed in a long time. We’re talking a Yeezus-level departure from an act’s established sonics. If Janelle Monae is an android, V V Brown is now a T-1000.
And the metamorphosis was worth the wait. Samson & Delilah swaps out handclaps and saccharine ’60s pop for an ominous soundscape of rubbery synths, cascading beats and twitchy electronics, all with a pulsating energy that never flags. Brown revamped her vocals, too. She now sounds more operatic, with a power that wasn’t readily apparent on her debut. At times she bellows with the urgent force of Light Asylum‘s Shannon Funchess (particularly on “Igneous”), while other moments find her channeling a weathered vulnerability (“Faith”).
For this darker sound, Brown brought in Dave Okumu (Jessie Ware) to co-produce, and the result is a stirring and dramatic marriage of soul, house and darkwave. Her transformation is perfectly encapsulated by the thrilling goth-disco single “The Apple,” but don’t stop there. V V’s risky and rewarding sophomore effort drops October 8 on her own YOY Records, and you can stream the whole thing below.